"Symbolist movement of 1885 was a 2nd, more effective wave of French Romanticism."3
"Symbolism is the name given to a movement in literature and the plastic arts that developed around 1885... Less perhaps a school than the atmosphere of a period."10
Symbolism lasted well into the 1890’s.4
Symbolism the word entered French language in 1830 as the practice of representing things by symbols. “Symbolist painters no longer faithfully represented the physical world but aimed for imaginative suggestions of their dreams through symbolic allusion and luxuriant decorative forms.”10
Symbolist “…works created by
Renaissance masters such as Giorgione, reject(ed) the
notion of one-for-one equivalence between the symbol used and the meaning
The symbol now becomes something which resonates within the mind of the
spectator, and the work itself is more than a mere sum total of the symbols.... In Renaissance and post-Renaissance painting, it remains
difficult to separate the idea of the symbol from the idea of the allegory...the
symbol could be something which existed in its own right, diffusing a mysterious
influence around itself, and affecting the whole context in which it was placed.
Its operations were by no means completely predictable.”11
Elizabeth Prelinger on Symbolism:
"reject(ed) exploration of the outer appearance of the world or optical reality in favor of subjective interpretation and rendering of visual facts."
rebelled against positivism and materialism of Impressionism. Truth lies beyond mere visual sensation.
writers and artists create(d) correspondences or equivalents, fusion of expression and concept
The psychology, philosophy and spiritual doctrines ranging from orthodox Catholicism, to theosophy, to the occult were critical in the formation of the symbolist doctrine. The symbolists associated with the following groups: Last Pagans, Swedenborgians, Eclectic Buddhists, Neo-Catholicism, Luciferians, Gnostics, Satanists, Rosicrucians, the Cult of Isis, and the Cult of Light.
Many "symbolists" lived in Montmartre, to the left bank. They walked the paths of the Luxembourg Gardens. The small revues (journals) held their offices on St Germain des Pres.
A dislike for Zola and naturalism. A Salon Rose+Croix poster depicts Art holding Zola's severed head. See Huysmans famous 1885 repudiation of Zola. In 1891 Leon Bloy gives the lecture, "The Funeral Rites of Naturalism" in Copenhagen. Also disliked the Neo-Classical painters Bougereau, Gerome, Gervex, and Meissonier.
Tone of anarchism. Note Jean Grave's La Revolte. Alphonse Germain, who began? the journal L'Ermitage in 1890, wrote Pour le Beau (Forward Beauty) which expresses his disgust with politics. It is this distaste for the political which better expresses the symbolist point of view, not anarchism.
Di Duccio (1418-81), Del Cossa (c1435-77), Mantegna (c1431-1506), Botticelli (1445-1510), Durer (1471-1528), Giorgione (c1477-1510), Titian (c1485-1576), Rubens (1577-1640), Jacques de Gheyn II (c1565-1629), Claude Lorrain (c1602-82), Tiepolo (1696-1770), Piranesi (1720-78)
The Romantic Period: Fuseli (1741-1825), Goya (1746-1828), Watteau (1758-1823), Casper David Friedrich (1774-1840), Delacroix (1798-1863), Victor Hugo (1802-85), Chasseriau (1819-56), Rodolphe Bresdin (1822-85), Gustave Dore (1832-83), and Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)
|Other Poets and Novelists
Le Figaro 1826-present
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 1770-1831
The journals would hold banquets where artists would interact with journalists, politicians and members of society.
Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) [9th Symphony and Palestrina], Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Richard Wagner (1813-1883), Gabriel Faure (1845-1924), Claude Debussey (1862-1918) [Demoiselle Elue], Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Cesar Franck (1882-1890), Vinteuil, and the Voice of Mary Garden (1874-1967).
1893 Salon de la Libre Esthetique (Salon of Free Aesthetics) held in Brussels. Maurice Denis was in demand for music covers. Musicians who played: Vincent d'Indy, ALbeniz, Duparc, Ravel and Chabrier. Paintings by Khnopff and Redon.
Juillian says only Maeterlink's plays Les Sept Princesses (The Seven Princesses), Pelleas et Melisande, and Les Aveugles (The Blind) had influence on the visual arts. He called most Symbolist plays a bore. Only Claudel's L'Annonce faite a Marie (The Annunciation) survives to this day. Much more on page 25.
See The Nabis movement for set design work among those artists. Theatre de l'Oeuvre employed Denis, Bonnard, Vuillard, and Munch. The director was Lugne-Poe. He staged Strindberg and Ibsen plays.
Influence of Neo-Classicists in England: John Flaxman, Sculptor, (1755-1826) and John Constable (1776-1837), had an impact on Delacroix.
J.M.W Turner (1775-1851) possibly effected Monet.
William Blake (1757-1827) was the grandfather of the Pre-Raphaelites. Blake was self taught, his principle influences being Raphael, Durer and Michelangelo.
His immediate predecessors were the ‘Ancients’: Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) and Edward Calvert (1799-1883).
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: (1848-1856). English Aesthetic Movement.
Also there Whistler (1834-1903), the American working in Europe, mostly Italy and England.
The Nazarenes. Wassily Kandinsky. A climate of Wagnerian Romanticism. Ended by merging with Expressionism.
Wagner's Parsifal and Tristan and Isolde. Delville painted the latter.
The Les XX (The Twenty) Exhibitions began in 1884.
Puvis de Chavannes may be more of an academic allegorist, but all contemporary artists from Gauguin to the Nabis claimed him as a precursor. Aurier and Denis refer to his motivations in their theoretical articles: intensification of drawing and an ornamental tendency. Gauguin would stress the differences, however always acknowledged a debt.10
Odilon Redon, friend of Mallarme, Gide, Valery and Jammes, followed the example of Puvis and Moreau, sought in his work "human beauty with the glamour of thought." While Moreau and Puvis were impeded by academic thought, Redon, "succeeded in creating the plastic counterpart of his dreams."10
Baudelaire's poem Correspondences.
Joris-Karl Huysmans' novel A Rebours (Against Nature) published. It refers to works by Moreau and Redon. He also wrote La-bas (Down There). Novels concern Satanism. He later converted to Catholicism and joined a monastery. In his earlier years he was considered a naturalist, and a disciple of Zola, praising Impressionism.
September 18, the poet Jean Moreas uses the term Symbolism in a manifesto appearing in Le Figaro, "as the only word capable of adequately describing the current tendency of the creative spirit in art... To clothe the idea in sensitive form."
Moreau's Life of Humanity, Seurat's La Grand Jatte exhibited, Gauguin goes to Pont Aven.
The central figure of the Symbolist literary movement, Stephane Mallarme's Poesies published. He had receptions every Tuesday at his flat in the rue de Rome. Friendly with Redon and Whistler, knew Gauguin and Munch, but closest friendship is with Manet.
Dujardin discusses Cloisonnistes in the Revue Independante.
Cafe Volpani exhibition "Impressionist and Synthetist Group" of Paul Gauguin and Pont-Aven school.
G. Albert Aurier's Le Moderniste and the journal La Plume. Paul Verlaine's Parallelement. Henri Bergson's Essai sur les Donnees Immediates de la Conscience, and Edouard Schure's Les Grands Inities, which discusses the mystical and theosophical current of Symbolism.
The journal, Le Mercure de France begins.
Maurice Denis discusses Neo-traditionnistes in his Art et Critique.
Most typical year and year of greatest acclaim.1
The Nathanson brothers publish the first issue of La Revue Blanche.
Albert Auier's article in the Symbolist publication Le Mercure de France, "Le Symbolisme en Peinture: Paul Gauguin" Called his art "Ideiste" lists the five qualifications of Symbolist Art. (see source Lucie-Smith)
Le Mercure de France also held a banquet in February presided over by Mallarme. The guest of Honor was Moreas. Also there: Chabrier, Redon, Vanor, Seurat, Gide, Samain and Rops.
April: Cafe Voltaire holds a celebration for Gauguin's departure to Tahiti. In attendance: Mallarme, Saint-Pol-Roux, Redon, Trachsel, Carriere and Willumsen.
Symbolistes defarmateurs defined by Alphonse Germain in La Plume.
Salon de la Libre Esthetique (Salon of Free Aesthetics) held in Brussels. Maurice Denis was in demand for music covers. Musicians who played: Vincent d'Indy, ALbeniz, Duparc, Ravel and Chabrier. Paintings by Khnopff and Redon.
Andre Mellerio's The Idealist Movement in Painting which distinguished four separate groups: the Chromo-Luminarists, the Neo-Impressionists, the Synthetists, and the Mystics.
Symbolism becoming academic, as it is pushed into oblivion and ridiculed.1
Metzinger began publishing what Jacob called, 'Mallarmeen' poetry, in neo-Symbolist journals like lle sonnante and Pan. Italian Futurist Gino Severini lived in Montmartre from 1906 to 1913 and recalled that the cafe La Closerie des Lilas, on the corner of boulevard Montparnasse and avenue de l'Observatoire, was at the epicenter of the movement. In the winter of 1908 Salmon was the secretary of a group associated with the neo-Symbolist journal Vers et Prose whom gathered around Symbolist poet Paul Fort during their weekly Tuesday soirees at the cafe. Severini notes among the attendees older Symbolist writers and the younger admirers Gustave Kahn, Maurice Maeterlinck, Apollinaire and Allard as well as 'Unanimist' poet Jules Romains (1885-1972) and art critic Alexandre Mercereau. Severini also mentions Metzinger, Gleizes, Le Fauconnier, Villon, Duchamp-Villon, Duchamp and Leger. According to literary historian Roger Shattuck, Jacob and Picasso joined these meetings.
Symbolists, Philippe Jullian, 1972, NX 549 A1
2) The Art of the Nabis: From Symbolism to Modernism. Elizabeth Prelinger.
3) The Nabis and their period. Charles Chasse’. Translated by Michael Bullock 1969. Lund Humphries, London. First published French 1960.
4) Symbolist Art, Edward Lucie-Smith, Thames & Hudson, London, 1972.
10) Praeger Encyclopedia of Art Luc-Reinhardt. Praeger Publishers, 1971.
11) Four French Symbolists: A sourcebook on Puvis, Moreau, Redon, Denis, Russell T. Clement.